This book presents the life and teaching of His holiness Jagadguru Sri Abhinava Vidyatirtha Mahasvamin, who adorned the Sringeri Sharada Peetham as its 35th Jagadguru Sankaracarya. This book starts with some relevant information relating to His Pre-monastic days. Them commences a detailed account of His intense practice of spiritual disciplines such as Hatha-yoga, Kundalini-yoga, Nadanusandhana, contemplation on the Atman, meditation and Samadhi on divine forms, scripture-based reflection on the Truth and Savikalpa-samadhi and Nirvikalpa-samadhi (the acme of Yoga) on the Absolute up to their culmination in His enlightenment and jivanmukti (liberation while living ) on 12th December, 1935. The bond between Him and His Guru was extraordinary; the chapter “A Unique Bond” deals with this.
He was multifaceted. The chapters, “Technical Acumen”, “All-round Administrator” and “his scientific insight” throw light on some of His facets. His role as a Guru is brought out in the chapter titled, “He Graced All.” The chapter, “Nation First” deals with His deep patriotism. His giving samnyasa to the present pontiff, Jagadguru Sri Bharati Tirtha Mahasvamin, is described in the chapter titled “Chosen Successor”. The compassionate Jagadguru toured the country extensively, spreading dharma, expounding the truth and uplifting thousands upon thousands. The details of His tours have been presented in detail in this book. His teachings in the form of parables, essays and lectures form an important part of this volume. The chapter “Beyond Embodiment” describes His Mahasamadhi and continued presence.
His Holiness Jagadguru Sri Bharati Tirtha Mahasvamin directed me to pen this book, specified that it should be comprehensive and, in response to my request, blessed it with His srimukha My respectful namaskaras to Him.
Puspadanta states in the Siva-mahimna-stotra, "0 Lord! If a blue mountain were to be the ink, the ocean were to be the ink-pot, a branch of the heavenly wish-fulfilling tree were to be the pen, the earth were to be the writing leaf and if, by taking recourse to these, the Goddess of Learning were to pen for eternity, even then the limit of Your glories will not be reached." These words, I believe, do apply to His Holiness Jagadguru Sri Abhinava Vidvatirtha Mahasvamin in toto. As for His intrinsic nature, even the Veda declares: "Failing to attain which, speech, together with the mind, turns back..." Such being the case, who indeed is competent to portray His corporeal and transcendental aspects? Much less am I, an insignificant disciple of His, capable of doing so. Yet I derive solace from Puspadanta's words, "0 Lord, if praise by one who is ignorant of the extent of your greatness be unbecoming then the eulogies of even Brahma and others are inadequate for you. If all remain blameless by panegyrising you in accordance with their intellectual capacity then even this endeavour of mine to laud you is not flawed." To me, He is everything; He is God, even more than God; and is the absolute acme of perfection. It is only because of His natural and unbounded grace that I am aware of even an infinitesimal fraction of His splendour and this itself has been sufficient to submerge me in an ocean of bliss and to confer on me a sense of total fulfilment. Notwithstanding my aforesaid personal view about His Holiness, in this book, I have avoided hyperbole and stuck to just the presentation of facts. To the reader, I hasten to add, in the words of Sri Madhusudana Sarasvati, “Whatever is proper here is due solely to my Guru and not due to me. Whatever is improper here is solely on account of me and not on account of my Guru."
This book presents the life and teachings of His Holiness Jagadguru Sri Abhinava Vidvatirtha Mahasvamin, who adorned the Sringeri Sharada Peetham as its 35th Jagadguru Shankaracharya for 35 years, from 1954 to 1989. His birth and early days in Bengaluru, His pre-monastic life in Sringeri and His embracing samnvasa are reported in the first three chapters. Next, His intense practice of spiritual disciplines up to their culmination in His enlightenment and jivanmukti (liberation while living) on 12th December, 1935, has been reported in detail. The bond between Him and His Guru was extraordinary; while He was very deeply devoted to His Guru and served Him with dedication, His Guru loved Him dearly and even regarded Him as God incarnate. This has been brought out in the chapter, "Unique Bond." The Mahasamadhi of His Guru and His coronation as a pontiff are described in the next chapter.
He was multifaceted. The chapters, "Technical Acumen" and "All-round Administrator" throw light on some of His facets. His role as a Guru is highlighted in the chapter titled, "He Graced All." His interactions with the young and with animals are covered in the chapters, "At Home with the Young" and "Love for Animals" respectively. He was deeply patriotic and the chapter, "Nation First" deals with this. The next chapter, "Admired Personage" has for its content His interactions with different spiritual and religious leaders. His giving samnyasa to and choosing as His successor a disciple, the present pontiff, Jagadguru Sri Bharati Tirtha Mahasvamin, is described in the chapter, "Chosen Successor."
His teachings are given thereafter under the heads, "Enriching Stories", "Cogent Elucidations" and "From His Pen." The content of the next chapter is patent from its title, "His Scientific Insight." The chapter that follows, "Beyond Embodiment" describes His Mahasamadhi and continued presence.
Following His becoming a pontiff, He toured extensively, spreading dharma, expounding the Truth and uplifting thousands upon thousands. During His pontificate of 35 years, He toured for over 17 years, the total number of tours, long and short, being 35. The details of His tours have been presented in tabular form; this big chapter is titled, "Journal of Journeys."
For easy readability, only the translations or the imports of the Sanskrit quotations have been provided in all the chapters as has been done in this Preface. The interested reader may refer to the Appendix for the Devanagari text of those quotations tabulated chapter- wise, along with their references.
It is only due to His grace that it has been possible to ready this book, which has over 1000 pages and around 1000 photographs, in around two months itself so as to meet the deadline of the book's release on 18th October, 2017, which marks the completion of His birth centenary.
But for Sri G. Ramasubramanian, this book could not have the seen the light of day. All I did was to pen some material; the rest was essentially done by him. Working night and day, unmindful of his poor health, he collected and collated much of the information that has been incorporated in several chapters, gathered and processed the photographs, cross-checked and tabulated the data pertaining to Holiness's tours, typeset the book and co-ordinated with the press. He was ably assisted by a dedicated team, which included Sri P. Parimala Rangan, Sri Sridhar Sathi, Smt. Sujatha Sridhar, Ms. S. Sharada, Sri K. Parthasarathy and Sri V. Rajesh Kumar.
Dr. H. N. Shankar and Dr. B. R. Vidyashankar gave valuable suggestions and not only checked but also contributed significantly to the contents of this book. Sri V. Subrahmanian, Smt. Sumita Vidyashankar and Sri K. Suresh Chandar proofread the material.
The primary sponsors of this publication are Sri Venkataramanan Krishnan, Sri Suresh Krishnamurthy and Sri A. Ramaswamy.
Sri N. Subramanian of Sudarsan Graphics, Chennai, printed this book with personal interest and in a short time.
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